Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Monday Medley

What we read while borrowing Joe Namath’s coat…

The Best Movies of 2013

The Theme of Movies in 2013: Rick People Suck

The Theme of Movies in 2013: Rich People Suck

Before I start, I want to address how silly a ranking like this is bound to be. It’s not that lists are inherently dumb—we at NPI (and the Internet writ large) LOVE presenting things in list form. But listing the best movies of 2013 IN 2013 (or, technically, immediately after 2013) feels misguided. It takes a while for feelings about a movie to settle. I saw five of these movies in the last two weeks; who knows how I’ll feel about them in a month? It’s not always clear which movies will be remembered well, or suffer on a rewatching. Looking back at my list from last year, I see about a dozen changes I would make. So consider this list somewhat provisional.

With that said, I saw a lot of movies this year, and lists can be a helpful way of organizing your thoughts on those movies. I’ve borrowed some of my category ideas from Josh’s ranking, but unlike Josh I find the distinction between “independent” movies and studio films to be arbitrary to the point of distraction. Plus, it’s a little pretentious. If a movie is good, it’s good; if it’s bad, it’s bad. Who cares who made it or what the budget was?

Anyway, here are the movies I saw in 2013, in order from worst to best…

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Monday Medley

What we read while hiding from North Korea…

Monday Medley

What we read while building our own Death Star in the private sector…

Compliance and Personal Responsibility

NOTE: This review contains spoilers for Compliance. Though the film is based on real events, if you are not familiar with the real events or the film, I strongly advise seeing the film before reading this or anything else about the film’s plot.

One of the most resonant scenes in Craig Zobel’s powerful new film, Compliance, comes near the end, when Becky (played by Dreama Walker), the fast-food cashier who has been falsely accused, stripped, imprisoned, and raped, wants someone to pay for her ordeal. She tells a lawyer she wants to sue her boss, Sandra. But that’s not the best course of action, says the lawyer. What’s the use in suing a now-unemployed fast-food manager? It makes much more sense to sue the chain where you worked: It will have much deeper pockets and, besides, wasn’t it really the company’s fault, for not having proper guidelines for this type of situation?

This rationale represents a perfect conclusion to the film, which is largely about how people absolve themselves of responsibility by submitting to authority and, moreover, how society tends to reward and condition this behavior. Compliance opens with a small but revealing scene: Sandra (played by Ann Dowd) has to get an emergency delivery after someone left the freezer door open the night before, but the delivery guy chews her out for not telling her supervisor first. “I thought I would deal with this first,” she explains, “I don’t know what I was thinking.” Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while regifting…

The Social Network: What’s Your Status?

There is a scene about midway through The Social Network, the new David Fincher movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook, in which Zuckerberg and his business partner, Eduardo Saverin, meet with Sean Parker, the celebrity Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of Napster. The scene takes place in the spring of 2004, when thefacebook.com had been out long enough for people to realize it was big, but not long enough for anyone to grasp how big. After many rounds of Appletinis and much discussion of how the Internet business world operates, Parker (played by Justin Timberlake) leaves, but before he goes he imparts some advice to his younger colleagues: “Drop the ‘the.’ It’s cleaner.”

This is a nifty bit of storytelling, in which a magnetic personality with only a little bit of substantive input manages to charm the Internet’s Next Big Thing with a beautiful grasp of marketing.

Except it’s not really accurate. Facebook was initially known as The Facebook because the rights to “www.facebook.com” were already owned, and Facebook wouldn’t actually be able to purchase the rights to the cleaner domain until the summer of 2005.

But, as I said, the scene makes for good storytelling, and that’s really what Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, the film’s screenwriter, are after with the movie. Continue reading

Oscarpalooza: Why is “Up” getting such good reviews?

In honor of Oscar weekend, NPI will be rerunning our reviews of the Best Picture nominees. Here, Josh wonders what all the fuss over Up is about:

I like Pixar movies as much as anyone else, but Up simply isn’t that good. It’s not that witty, the storyline is pretty basic, and the characters are fairly simple. Much of the interaction between characters—especially in the middle of the movie—is dull. Up is a decent adventure movie with very good animation and cute-looking characters. I could see how this is appealing for children, but I don’t understand the logic behind the reviews praising this movie as excellent for people of all ages: It has a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently number 16 (of all time!) on IMDB.  (Admittedly, new movies tend to get a boost, but this movie shouldn’t even be in the top 200.)

After the movie, I was a bit confused about what elicited the rave reviews. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon (one of the very few critics who wrote a negative review) helped me understand what sparked them in her claim: Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while forgiving Gilbert Arenas’ gambling debts…

  • It’s been too long since our last fiction link: Here’s “39 Minutes” from former NBA player and one-time NPI commenter Paul Shirley over at Flip Collective. And don’t worry, it is not tied to the Al Pacino movie.

Aught Lang Syne: The Top Ten Movies of the Decade

Despite my general negativity about movies of the Aughts, there were still plenty of great films released this decade (although I think a Top Ten list of 90s movies would probably omit films that could be #1 on this list). I’ve already provided a list of the ten funniest films of the decade, and there were other great comedies that didn’t make the list. Today, though, we turn our attention to the dramatic category. As Josh has already declared, though, genre concerns can be distracting, so I will not be bound my technical genre classifications. Consider this a list of films I like for “dramatic” reasons: 

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